In history, the deaths of popular celebrities have always sparked emotional reactions in their fans. Along with sadness—and sometimes anger—there is sometimes outright denial, and for many, that stage never dissolves. For some fans of Tupac, saying goodbye hasn’t been an option, because to them, he’s still alive.
Sept. 13 marked the anniversary of Tupac Shakur’s death, who died six days after he was shot in a drive-by. Considered one of the most magnetic rap artists in music, his legacy continues to stand firm and grows with new fans.
Yet more than two decades have passed and conspiracy theories persist about whether he’s really dead. Here’s a roundup of some of the weirdest, most outrageous, and most circulated ideas that claim the late star is alive.
He faked his death and dropped hints about it
Rolling Stone pointed out on Tupac’s 2002 posthumous release, “Better Dayz,” there’s a lyric that says, “Expect me like you expect Jesus to come back.” Prior to his death, he took on the alias Makaveli, a reference to the Italian politician/philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli who proposed that deceiving one’s enemies could be done by making everyone think you’re dead.
Two months after he passed, Tupac’s 1996 album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory dropped. Super conspiracy theorists believe the album’s cover meant he would reappear like Christ, either 3 days later or on a date involving the number 7. They also believe the name Makaveli was symbol of resurrection and an anagram meaning “Mak Alive.”
He fled to Cuba
This one sprouted and grew a few legs with some arguing that Tupac faked his death and went into hiding with his godmother, Assata Shakur. Others believe he’s chilling there without a care. A few fake videos popped up purporting to show him in Cuba but have been debunked. That includes a grainy one from “Holla Back.”
Suge Knight insinuated he’s alive
Marion “Suge” Knight, former head of Death Row Records, was driving with Tupac when the car was shot up that fateful day in September 1996. Knight spoke in an interview about how he was grazed, but on the way to the hospital and at the hospital, he and Tupac were laughing and joking.
Comb the internet and you’ll find multiple interviews—like this one with Soledad O’Brien and Ice-T—with him saying Tupac could still be alive.
Suge Knight’s son peddled his own theory too
Taj Knight, Suge Knight’s son, made a dramatic video claiming Tupac is living in Malaysia. He added that the rapper was on the run from the shadowy Illuminati and then acted like he himself was being chased by them. Knight later backtracked after being challenged and accused of chasing clout.
He’s been photographed, so he’s alive
A number of photos have made the rounds on the internet that are supposedly of Tupac, including photoshopped versions with other celebs like Beyoncé, Rihanna, and 50 Cent.
If you’ve noticed, none of them have said they’ve been hanging out with the late artist. On top of that, there are lookalikes who walk the planet, as evidenced by the young actor who played him in the movie, All Eyez on Me.
The sneaker theory
In the video for “Toss It Up,” Tupac is seen wearing some Penny Hardaway sneakers, which weren’t released to the public until after his death. Some think this means he had to be alive in order to shoot the video. But this ignores that fact that celebrities often get products before they hit the mainstream market.
One of the worst theories floating around Reddit is that Tupac had facial and voice reconstruction surgery and is actually Kanye West. No one is buying that, but there are people who are keeping hope alive, just as they have with Elvis, Michael Jackson, and John Lennon.